Assembling Your Toolbox
Your freezer is packed with oven-ready meals. Diapers and onesies are neatly stacked, waiting to be soiled. Your kitchen cabinets are clean and organized, and you’ve seen your last movie in a real movie theater for the foreseeable future. You are ready to pour all of your energy into caring for that little bundle of milk-breath and baby fat.
‚Nesting‘ is a well known phenomenon amongst pregnant women – every mother knows that it pays to be prepared. But how much thought is given to preparation for the birth itself? I’m not talking about having the hospital bag packed and ready to go. I’m talking about mental preparation for an event that will challenge you physically and mentally in ways that you cannot know. And perhaps that is precisely the reason that so many fail to prepare – how can we plan for something that we don’t yet fully understand? But to neglect the need for preparation is a huge mistake. If we were going to run a race, we would prepare. If we were going to take a test, we would prepare. We even take the time to prepare when doing something as simple as going out on a date. So why then, do we expect to be able to face one of life’s greatest challenges without laying the groundwork that will give us strength when we need it most?
Although you may not be able to predict exactly how the birth will go, there is a lot that you can do to insure that when the time comes, your mind is in the right place, and that you have the tools to labor with focus and intention. Here are some tips for preparing yourself mentally for an amazing birth experience.
Say no to negativity.
Do not read birth horror stories, and do not allow anyone else to share them with you either. It can be all too easy to dwell on the negative – indeed, in our culture sometimes it is difficult to escape such stories and images – but know that most births do have positive outcomes. Try imagining a positive birth experience for yourself. What kind of birth do you envision? Write it down.
Read inspiring birth stories.
To read about the many different ways in which women have successfully navigated the birthing process is both inspiring and empowering. Here is another wonderful source for real birth stories compiled by one of the most well respected midwives in North America. (The second half of the book is also a treasure trove of information that might be helpful for those planning an umedicated birth.)
Fill your toolbox.
Take a class. Learn different relaxation, visualization and breathing techniques. Practice affirmations and meditation. Educate yourself about birthing positions and coping strategies, and open yourself up to the possibility that birth can even be a comfortable, pleasurable and for some even a pain-free experience if you un-learn what society teaches and embrace the reservoir of power that lies within your own body. Different tools work for different women, but the more tools that you have in your box, the more resources you will have to draw from when the time comes, and the more confidence you will have. Follow your instincts – which tools you choose for your box are not as important as your connection to them and your feelings about how they will work for you.
Trust your body. Women were made to give birth. Keep your mind in the present and remember that each breath is a new opportunity to relax deeper into the process. Be in awe of nature’s brilliance, and find strength in that.
Do you have any tips or tricks for mentally preparing yourself for childbirth? Please share below!